The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released on 31 March 2023 details on the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) bonus criteria, comprising the Skills Bonus (Criterion 5) and the Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Criterion 6).
These bonus criteria allow Employment Pass (EP) applicants and firms to earn bonus points towards their total COMPASS score.
Firms will require 40 points to pass COMPASS.
The points are divided into six criteria.
The bonus criteria, i.e., Skills Bonus (C 5) and the Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (C6), are on top of the foundational criteria, i.e., Salary (C1), Qualifications (C2), Diversity (C3) and Support for Local Employment (C4).
These bonus points help companies secure the complementary foreign manpower necessary to seize economic opportunities in the immediate term, recognising that there are limits to the local workforce.
Announced at MOM’s Committee of Supply 2022, COMPASS is a points-based framework that considers individual and firm-related attributes to holistically evaluate an EP applicant’s complementarity to Singapore’s workforce.
MOM said that COMPASS provides firms with clarity and predictability for manpower planning and recognises efforts to develop a strong local pipeline and a diverse foreign workforce.
COMPASS will apply to new EP applications from 1 September 2023.
MOM added that given Singapore’s limited local workforce and the worldwide talent competition, the demand for skilled roles would also need to be met by complementary foreign manpower.
The ministry also announced the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which recognises EP applicants in occupations that require highly specialised skills currently in shortage in the local workforce.
EP applicants filling an occupation on the SOL can earn up to 20 bonus points on COMPASS.
There are currently 27 occupations on the SOL from sectors that include agritech, financial services, green economy, healthcare, infocomm technology and maritime.
SOL occupations exhibit strategic importance to Singapore’s economic priorities, with a significant degree of labour shortage due to skills gaps.
The SOL is developed by MOM and the Ministry of Trade and Industry through a robust evaluation process in consultation with sector agencies and tripartite partners.
A key consideration when placing an occupation on the SOL is a strong commitment by the sector agency to work with industry to develop the local pipeline to address these shortages over time.
The efforts include working with institutes of higher learning to equip graduates with the necessary skills for the job and implementing programmes to upskill and reskill locals already in the sector or adjacent roles.
MOM said it would review the SOL every three years but retain the flexibility to add or remove occupations annually if required by market conditions.
The Strategic Economic Priorities (SEP) Bonus recognises firms undertaking ambitious investment, innovation, internationalisation, or company and workforce transformation activities.
Firms receiving the SEP bonus will be awarded 10 bonus points on COMPASS for each EP application submitted.
Firms must be supported by sector agencies or NTUC to qualify for the SEP Bonus. To be considered, firms must participate in one of the eligible programmes run by agencies and demonstrate commitment to developing the local workforce.
The programmes include the Research and Innovation Scheme for Companies by the Economic Development Board, Scale-Up SG by Enterprise Singapore and SG:D Spark by the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
Progressive firms committed to working with the Labour Movement to strengthen local workforce development through NTUC’s Company Training Committees (CTCs) can also qualify for SEP Bonus.
Supported firms will receive the SEP Bonus for up to three years and be notified by MOM from end-July 2023.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay said COMPASS is something that NTUC has been championing for, considering the feedback from PMEs, through the NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce report in 2021 and its various engagements with PMEs through the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations.
Mr Tay added: "Through MOM’s SOL, we are better able to understand the occupations that require highly specialised skills that are currently in shortage in the local workforce, and ensure that the foreign talent is more targeted and focused in these occupations.
"One of the NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce’s recommendations was to ensure that there is greater diversity in the foreign talent that employers bring in. Hence, I am glad that diversity is one of the safeguards for the SOL list as well as a core criterion under the COMPASS Framework. This will improve workplace fairness and help to address the concerns of many local PMEs."